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Redskins training camp practice report, Day 1: A soggy start

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Redskins training camp practice report, Day 1: A soggy start

RICHMOND—The Redskins went out for their first training camp practice a little late due to a moderate, steady rain that had been falling all morning. Although they did wait a while to start letting fans into the Bon Secours training center, indicating that they might have been considering a change in the practice schedule, nothing changed after a delay to remove the tarps from the field, things got going about 15 minutes late.

Here are my observations from that practice, at least as many as I can read from my rain-soaked notebook.

Richard Crawford, who tore multiple knee ligaments about 11 months ago, came out onto the field without a brace or even a protective sleeve. That’s a good sign for him; he needs every rep he can get.

—The very first session of practice was dedicated to special teams. That is something new, perhaps denoting a new emphasis.

Josh LeRibeus was moving well during some O-line drill, drawing praise from position coach Chris Foerster. He seems to be in good shape but he still faced a tough battle to make the roster after the team drafted Spencer Long.

—Elsewhere, the running backs were running pass patterns. Alfred Morris ran a nice-looking route but the pass wasn’t quite on target. It was a bit high but catchable; however, the wet ball slipped through his hands.

—Although the field is wet it remains in pretty good shape. Some locals said that they made improvements to the drainage. If that’s the case, the system held up pretty well for its first test.

—Things were a bit bumpy for Robert Griffin III and the offense during the first set of 11 on 11 drills. During one four-snap sequence Griffin fumbled, then he had a miscommunication with Pierre Garçon as the receiver went one way and the pass went the other. The next play never got started as someone moved early and then the next snap resulted in a busted play.

—Things didn’t get any better. A little later in that set Griffin threw a short pass to Garçon too low. The quarterback dropped down and did about a dozen pushups as penance for his misplay.

Jordan Reed made a nice grab while going out of bounds. If he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit.

Kirk Cousins threw a pass across his body into a crowd of defenders. The only reason it wasn’t picked off was that the three defenders could decide who was going to catch it.

—On one play Keenan Robinson stayed with Reed across the middle and reached in and batted away the pass. I don’t see him getting knocked out of the starting job.

—CB Courtney Bridget did a nice job of staying with DeSean Jackson on a deep route. He stayed with the receiver step for step and either got a fingertip on the ball to knock it away or created a distraction. In any case, he got the job done and the pass was incomplete.

—The only receiver who has been around for a while who was working with special teams coverage units was Aldrick Robinson. He knows he will have to step up there to make the 53.

Lache Seastrunk can change directions quickly, even violently. On one run he cut up the sideline and tore out a couple of big divots out of the turn. He didn’t lose his balance in the process.

—Here is your second-team offensive line from right to left:

  • Tom Compton
  • Spencer Long
  • Mike McGlynn
  • Josh LeRibeus
  • Morgan Moses

—Your third-team OL, also right to left:

  • Compton
  • Kevin Kowalski
  • Tevita Stevens
  • Adam Gettis
  • Moses

There are only four tackles in camp so Compton and Moses pull double duty.

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.